Games like cricket and rugby were imported from Britain at this time and with a local variant of football, Australian Rules Football, became treasured cultural traditions.
The Commonwealth of Australia was founded in 1901, after a series of referenda conducted in the British colonies of Australasia.
Women became eligible to vote in South Australia in 1895.
This was the first legislation in the world permitting women to stand for political office and, in 1897, Catherine Helen Spence became the first female political candidate.
Contact between the indigenous Australians and the new settlers ranged from cordiality to violent conflict, but the diseases brought by Europeans were devastating to Aboriginal populations and culture.
According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey, during the colonial period: "Smallpox, measles, influenza and other new diseases swept from one Aboriginal camp to another ...
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During the colonial era, distinctive forms of Australian art, music, language and literature developed through movements like the Heidelberg school of painters and the work of bush balladeers like Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, whose poetry and prose did much to promote an egalitarian Australian outlook which placed a high value on the concept of mateship.Over time, the diverse food, lifestyle and cultural practices of immigrants have been absorbed into mainstream Australian culture.The oldest surviving cultural traditions in Australia—and some of the oldest surviving cultural traditions on earth—are those of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.The arrival of the first British settlers at what is now Sydney in 1788 introduced Western civilisation to the Australian continent.Although Sydney was initially used by the British as a place of banishment for prisoners, the arrival of the British laid the foundations for Australia's democratic institutions and rule of law, and introduced the long traditions of English literature, Western art and music, and Judeo-Christian ethics and religious outlook to a new continent.